Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Personal Project: Fiction Novel Recommendations

Fiction Novel Recommendations

Crime & Mystery:

Name: The Husband


Author: Dean Koontz


Synopsis:

            An ordinary day was turned into a living nightmare when Mitch Rafferty answered his phone call, only to find his dear wife screaming at the end of the line. After the cry that stunned Mitch completely, a man came on the line to inform him that he has 60 hours to raise $2 million cash to ransom her. To demonstrate Mitch how dead serious he was, the kidnapper shot a dog-walker across the street as an example. Being a mere gardener, Mitch had never possessed such large sum of money, let alone raising it in a very short period of time. In the next two and a half days, Mitch would be tested whether or not he loved his wife enough.


Extract:

            He opened the phone. The screen brightened with an image of colourful fish in dark water.
            After keying in 9 and 1, Mitch hesitated, but then entered the final digit.

            Iggy dropped his trowel, moved toward the street.

Only when the police operator answered on the second ring did Mitch realize that from the moment he’s seen the dead man’s shattered head, his breathing had been desperate, ragged, raw.  For the moment, words wouldn’t come, and then they blew out of him in a rough voice he barely recognized.
            “A man’s been shot. I’m dead. I mean, he’s dead. He’s been shot, and he’s dead,” (Koontz 16).


“An ordinary man's extraordinary commitment to his wife takes him on a harrowing journey of adventure, sacrifice, and redemption to the mystery of love itself—and to a showdown with the force that would destroy it forever in this masterful novel. Read THE HUSBAND and you'll understand why there is no one who can match Dean Koontz for pure excitement.” — Denver Post

"THE HUSBAND moves like a roller coaster without brakes....Without a doubt, Koontz is America's No. 1 author of thrillers today ... THE HUSBAND is one of his finest novels." — The Denver Post

"Dean Koontz thrillers are the perfect way to chill out on a hot summer day." — The Chicago Tribune
"Koontz is a master of the edge-of-your-seat, paranoid thriller—and perhaps the leading American practitioner of the form." — Newark Star Ledger


A New York Times Bestseller


Amazon.com best seller rank: #36,417


            Despite a non promising start, The Husband actually gets better and moves at a faster pace as you carry on reading. It manages to hold audiences at the edge of their seats because of the culminate question: Will Mitch be able to save his wife? The main characters are very dimensional and realistic. Each of them has their background explained, which are fairly interesting. As the story goes, more details and complications are added to spice up the story.

            On the other hand, hardly any character besides Mitch has a clear development, even their depths are unable to cover up that fact. There are several unfitting conversations and situations that can easily distracted readers from the main plot, such as when one of the kidnappers gave Holly, the wife, a candy bar. The pace of the storyline is like a rollercoaster, accelerating faster and faster, but then all the sudden, it hit a wall. The last chapter was very abrupt, which left the story inconclusive and left readers several unanswered questions. 

In spite of that, The Husband serves well as a page turner. Intense actions and shocking twists are ready to surprise audiences at every turn. The novel shows how much a person can be changed by pressure and desperation, illustrated by Mitch who lost more than just his innocence as he continued further into the abyss. It also portrays how much a person is willing and capable to do for the love of his life, to keep his marriage vow; “Until death do us part,” except that Mitch will not let death comes.  
  

Also by same author:






                    
Thriller & Suspense:

Name: Tomorrow, when the war began (#1 of the series)


Author: John Marsden


Synopsis:

            Enjoying their summer break, Ellie and seven of her friends went camping, where they found a calm sanctuary in the middle of nature and named it “Hell.” When they came back, the calmness turned into silence and lifelessness. Animals were left to die, electricity cut off and no people in sight. It did not take long for them to find out what had happened; their country was invaded, now occupied by a fully armed, unknown military force. They were at war. With the only reality they knew stolen, the eight teenagers must fight for their survival: courage as their weapon, friendship as their shield and every step they took was a battlefield. At a time like this, perhaps the safest place is Hell.


Extract:

            Loyalty, courage, goodness. I wonder if they’re human inventions too, or if they just are.

I look around me. There’s Homer, making a list and drawing plans. God knows what he’s got in mind for us. Robyn’s reading the Bible. She prays quietly every night. I like Robyn and I like how strong she is in her beliefs. Christ is writing too, probably a poem. I don’t understand any of the one he’s shown me so far -- I don’t know if he understands them himself – but I try to make intelligent comments about them. Fi’s putting in some posts for bigger chookyard. Lee’s sitting next to me, trying to make a rabbit trap. It doesn’t look as if it’d catch any rabbit with an IQ of more than 10, but who knows? Maybe rabbits have IQs in single figures. Anyway I like the way Lee stops every few minutes to stroke my leg with his lean brown fingers.

We’ve got to stick together, that’s all I know. We all drive each other crazy at times, but I don’t want to end up here alone, like the Hermit. Then this really would be Hell. Humans do such terrible things to each other that sometimes my brain tells me they must be evil. But my heart still isn’t convinced.
I just hope we can survive (Marsden 276).


Also within the series:
  • The Dead Of The Night
  • A Killing Frost
  • Darkness, Be My Friend
  • Burning For Revenge
  • The Night Is For Hunting
  • The Other Side of Dawn

“Tomorrow, when the war began has changed everything about me. This book opened a whole new world I started to open my mind on books” -- Elisha Blacklow, Tasmania.


Australian Children's Choice Awards: Children's Yearly Best-Ever Reads (2000, 2001 and 2002)



Also made into a major motion picture


Amazon.com bestseller rank: #12,900


            Exciting and fast paced, Tomorrow When the War Began is fairly convincing and believable. The story contains many ups, downs and surprising turns of events. The language style really suits the narrator’s perspective, one of the factors that made this novel realistic to a certain extent. Each character received some attention in every book so that none of them are actually left out, which is well done considered that many novels simply focus on a few main characters and the rest are forgotten.

            Nevertheless, coincident are being used too often. Yes, luck does play a major role in success, but too much can make the characters looked like they have nine lives.  Sometimes the author put too much detail that it slowed down the pace that the story was running. A few character developments occurred out of blue, however, this was understandable due to shell-shock or sudden rush of adrenaline. The biggest flaw of this series is that each book has quite similar pattern of events, luckily the storyline is not exactly predictable.

            At the same time, the series contains enough thrilling, romantic and humor elements to keep audiences entertain throughout seven books. It portrays the powerful friendship and pure human nature; how we react to protect ourselves and the loved ones without choosing the method. When choices are not available, people are drove by their instinct to do something they have never thought of doing: a darker side of humanity. Tomorrow When the War Began is an epic countdown to the conclusion of the war.


Also by same author:






                    
Horror:

 Name: I am Legend


Author: Richard Matheson


Synopsis:

            Robert Neville was a sole survivor of an incurable plague that had exterminated the entire human race. However, he was not alone. At day, he traveled from place to place, stabbing stakes after stakes into bodies of people he once knew or would never known. At night, the dead ones raised and hunted for him, hungered for his flesh and blood. Sank only deeper into grief and desperation, Robert hopelessly seek for explanation of the apocalypse he was facing.


Extract:

He felt himself trembling without control and he wanted to cry out loudly to stop the runaway horse in his brain. He had to find something! Goddamn it! He raged in his mind. I won’t let it go!

He made himself sit down. Trembling and rigid, he sat there and blanked his mind until calm took over. Good Lord, he thought finally, what’s the matter with me? I get an idea, and when it doesn’t explain everything in the first minute, I panic. I must be going crazy.

He took that drink now; he needed it. He held up his hand until it stopped shaking. All right, little boy, he tried kidding himself, calm down now. Santa Claus is coming to town with all the nice answers. No longer will you be a weird Robinson Crusoe, imprisoned on an island of night surrounded by oceans of death (Matheson 83).


“I think the author who influenced me the most as a writer was Richard Matheson. Books like I am Legend were an inspiration to me.” – Stephen King

“Pull off that difficult trick of successfully marrying two genres, in this case horror and SF. It is, by turns, scary, thrilling, tragic, witty and – ultimately – uplifting.” – James Lovegrove

“The most clever and riveting vampire novel since Dracula.” – Dean Koontz

“One of the ten all-time best novels of Vampirism” – Fangoria



Also made into a major motion picture


Amazon.com bestseller rank: #23,671


            I am Legend is not at all like the usual horror stories with just horrified screams or bloody corpses to scare the readers. Yes, the book does contain both mentioned previously, and so as actions and thrilling scenes. However, those are not the main concept of the story. The focus of I am Legend is the main character, his development and how loneliness was eating him inside out. This is what makes the novel disappointing and brilliant at the same time; Disappointing because it will not satisfy horror-lovers, but brilliant because it explored into the fact that fright and insanity are something within the mind, the horror outside is just a factor that affect them.

            Honestly, there were times when I had the urge to put down the book. The beginning was simply confusing because the author began the novel with the middle of the storyline. This is not uncommon, but most of the time, the middle part would be more thrilling and attractive. In this book, it was rather boring. However, it gets more interesting as flashback and explanation slowly comes afterward. The saddest part about this novel is that it is incredibly short, when it could have been so much longer and better. The late part of the novel seriously needs to be lengthened.

            Yet, as brief as it is, the author managed to pull out the best part of the story: the main character. Robert is, by far, the most realistic character I have ever read. His emotions and humanity are so well portrayed that his desperation seemed so real. I am Legend exemplifies what a lone rebel is really like.


***This novel is only a half of the entire book. The other half is consisted with ten short horror stories. I am recommending just the I am Legend half***


Also by same author:






                   
Romantic:

Name: The Time Traveler’s Wife


Author: Audrey Niffenegger


Synopsis:

An extraordinary relationship that portrays unconditional love shared between Henry DeTamble and Clare Abshire. Their first encounter was when Clare was six and Henry was 36, while their wedding was held when Clare was 22 and Henry 30. These impossible events were possible as Henry, who seemed to be just another librarian working at the Newberry Library in Chicago, suffered from a rare genetic condition of “Chorno-Displacement.” This illness caused him to unwillingly time travel, ever since he was five, to anywhere at any point of time. Yet, having to meet the love of her life since childhood, Clare struggled to live a normal life with Henry.


Extract:

One of the best and most painful things about time traveling has been the opportunity to see my mother alive. I have spoken to her a few times; little things like, "Lousy weather today, isn't it?" I gave her my seat in the El, follow her in the supermarket, watch her sing.  I hang around outside the apartment my father still lives in, and watch the two of them, sometimes with my infant self, take walks, eat in restaurants, go to the movies. It’s the ‘60s, and they are elegant, young, brilliant musicians with all the world before them. They are happy as larks, they shine with their luck, their joy. When we run across each other they wave; they think I am someone who lives in the neighborhood, someone who takes a lot of walks, someone who get his hair cut oddly and seems to mysteriously ebb and flow in age. I once heard my father wonder if I was a cancer patient. It still amazes me that Dad has never realize that this man lurking around the early years of their marriage was his son (Nifferenegger 122).


 “A big, reckless novel…utterly convincing” – Daily Telegraph

 “At its core The Time Traveler’s Wife is an old-fashioned love story. A terrific book…startlingly original.” – Observer

“Wonky, sexy, incredible.” – The Times

“Niffenegger exploits the possibilities of her fantasy scenario with immense skill: no wonder this novel has spent weeks on the bestseller lists. This is one of those books that makes you want to eat up from start to finsh.” – Guardian.


ALA Alex Award Winner
Book Sense Book of the Year Award Nominee
Locus Award Nominee
Arthur C. Clarke Award Nominee
John W. Campbell Award Winner
International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Nominee
 British Book Award Winner



Also made into a major motion picture


Amazon.com bestseller rank: #158


            With a single touch of fantasy element, The Time Traveler’s Wife has become a brilliantly original, yet believable, love story. The romance is very interesting and attractive. Both the main character and the concept of time traveling is explored into great depth and detailed that made this fiction seems almost realistic. The time traveler is very dimensional and well developed throughout the events. The language style given to each character is suitable and often humorous.

            However, the storyline is sometimes confusing, due to the time traveler being pulled backward and forward through the timeline. The love between the main couple was formed quite out of blue. The time traveler’s wife herself is lacking some strong personality and is too much of a classic, in loved girl. There are a number of irrelevant details that might bore readers. Personally, I find the title of the book rather distracting as the story focuses more on the time traveler himself than his wife, still, it could have been this way to point out the romantic theme. The biggest flaw of this book is that it contains no mystery or climax, which risk creating boredom to audiences. Everyday life is not the most exciting plot in the world.

            Yet, even without the page-turner element, the plot is still enjoyable and promising enough to be worth reading.  The story has its moment of intensity, tragedy, surprise and joy. The Time Traveler’s Wife displays clearly how committed love can be.


Also by same author:






        
Sci-Fi:

Name: Uglies (#1 of the series)


Author: Scott Westerfield


Synopsis:

             Tally Youngblood was dying to turn 16, when she would undergo a surgery that would turn her into a stunningly gorgeous pretty.  This was until a girl named Shay came into her life and made Tally started to doubt the very concept of beauty. Before Tally could conclude anything, Shay ran away on her surgery date to go live in the wild, escaping from the city that had governed her entire life. Before she left, Shay tried to persuade Tally to come with her and gave Tally a clue to where her final destination was. This incident caused the authority to act upon it and put Tally in an extremely difficult position: either betray Shay or become an Ugly for life. The choice she made will change everything she had ever known, including herself.


Extract:

            Tally fingered the pendant. This was her chance. Might as well get it over with now.

These people had forgotten what the old world was really like. Sure, they were having a great time camping out and playing hide- and-seek, and living out here was a great trick on the cities. But somehow they’d forgotten that the Rusties had been insane, almost destroying the world in a million different ways. This starving almost-pretty was only one of them. Why go back to that?

They were already cutting down trees here.

Tally popped open the heart pendant, looking down into the little glowing aperture where the lazer waited to read her eyeprint. She brought it closer, her hand shaking. It was foolish to wait. This would only get harder.

And what choice sis she have? (Westerfeld 191)


Also within the series:
  •         Pretties
  •          Specials
  •          Extras


“With a beginning and ending that pack hefty punches, this introduction to a dystopic future promises an exciting series.” – Kirkus Review

“Highly readable…The cliff-hanger ending promises a sequel.” –School Library Journal

“Teens will sink their teeth into the provocative questions about invasive technology, image-obsessed society, and the ethical quandaries of a mole-turned-ally…Ingenious.” – Booklist

“Asks engaging questions about the meaning of beauty, individuality and betrayal. Highly recommended for SF fans or anyone who likes a good, thoughtful adventure.” – Kliatt


ALA 2006 Best books for young adults
ALA 2006 Popular paperback for young adults
Kirkus Editor’s choice
SLJ Best book of the year

Amazon.com bestseller rank: #1,516

            The future ahead of us may not be as pretty as we hope. Uglies is a highly entertaining version of our 200-years-from-now future. The plot itself is far from complicated, yet it is exciting enough to keep audience reading. The novel is packed with actions, thrillers, romance and humour. The writing style is refreshing and fits well with the time period. Personally, I really like the irony of us (our generation) being called terrible or insane as the author is one of us as well.
            In contrast, each book follows a similar pattern of building to climax and then a cliff hanger, even in the final book. I find some thrilling scenes quite hard to picture as the technologies in the novel are rather beyond imagination. What I found the most disappointing was the some of the characters’ reactions, which are rather unrealistic. Sometimes they acted too dramatically that it made a scene looked ridiculous, sometimes they acted too lifelessly that it made a scene far less emotional and memorable than it could have been.
            Although, Uglies has introduced a problem that not many people have considered it: the concept of beauty. This idea plays the major role in the novel, and it also reflects on our view now from looks to racism, and as well as the core of humanity itself.  

Also by same author:





Action & Adventure:

Name: Rowan of Rin (#1 of the series)


Author: Emily Rodda


Synopsis:

Seven hearts the journey make
Seven ways the hearts will break
Bravest heart will carry on
When sleep is death, and hope is gone….
Now that the stream had run dry, the village of Rin was facing its greatest danger. If the water did not flow anytime soon, it would be the death of Rin. The strongest and bravest of the villagers volunteered to climb the mountain where the stream came from, intended to removed whatever that is blocking the water flow. However, Sheba, the Wise Woman of Rin, had cast a spell upon the map to the mountain to appear only in Rowan’s hands. This made Rowan, a weak and timid boy, the seventh member of the journey. Climbing up, they faced terrible dangers that would test their courage; either strengthens it or destroys it.

Extract:
Rowan was crawling with his eyes shut tight. He had found that this was better than facing the sighing blackness ahead. His hands were bleeding, grazed and cut by the rock. His legs ached with weariness. He could hear Strong Jonn pulling himself along behind, groaning with the effort as he struggled against the walls that pressed against his broad shoulders. They had stopped speaking long ago.
The passage had circled and turned back on itself many times. They crawled and rested, crawled and rested, in a nightmarish pattern that repeated itself over and over again. Twice they had fallen asleep and woken in the darkness, crying out for each other in panic. Now they did not know how long they had been in the tunnel. They did not know whether it was day or night. All they knew was that they were climbing. Upward, only upward (Rodda 126).

Also within series:
·         Rowan and the Travelers
·         Rowan and the Keeper of the Crystal
·         Rowan and the Zebak
·         Rowan of the Bukshah

1994 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year - Younger Readers
1994 YABBA (Young Australians' Best Book Award ) - Older Readers
1999 Dymock’s Children’s Choice Award - Favorite Australian Younger Reader Book and Author 1999
Short-listed, 2001 Koala Awards (Kids Own Literature Award)
Short-listed, 2003 Bilby Awards - Younger Readers

Amazon.com Bestseller rank: #188,494

            Rowan of Rin is a rewritten classic: weak main character who was forced to undergo a dangerous mission. It is entertaining, nonetheless. The language style is beautiful and fits the setting of the story, which is quite fantasy. The sequence of events is nicely placed. However, the author took a big risk by including fortune-telling poems, which can make the story very predictable at some point. The characters don’t exactly developed, but they embraced their flaw and tried to make a good use out of it. Rowan of Rin is a brief but enjoyable adventure that you can count on.

Also by same author:
                    




Fantasy:

Name: Harry Potter and the Sorcerers’ Stone (#1 of the series)


Author: J.K. Rowling


Synopsis:

            Harry Potter was no ordinary boy. He spent the first ten years of his life being treated like dirt, having to sleep under the stairs of his uncle’s house every night, wishing for something better. Then, in the split second that Harry turned eleven, a magical twist of fate happened. He received a letter, one of many that his uncle had tried to hide from him, from a giant intruder who casted his hated cousin to have a pig tail: “We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.” That invitation was the beginning of the greatest phenomenon ever happened in the magical world.


Extract:

The problem was, strange things often happened around Harry and it was just no good telling the Dursleys he didn't make them happen.

Once, Aunt Petunia, tired of Harry coming back from the barbers looking as though he hadn't been at all, had taken a pair of kitchen scissors and cut his hair so short he was almost bald except for his bangs, which she left "to hide that horrible scar." Dudley had laughed himself silly at Harry, who spent a sleepless night imagining school the next day, where he was already laughed at for his baggy clothes and taped glasses. Next morning, however, he had gotten up to find his hair exactly as it had been before Aunt Petunia had sheared it off. He had been given a week in his cupboard for this, even though he had tried to explain that he couldn't explain how it had grown back so quickly (Rowling 18).


Also within the series:

  •  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  •  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of fire
  •  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  •  Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  •  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows



“…this is a terrific book.” – The Sunday Telegraph.


A New York Times Bestseller
A USA Today Bestseller
A Publisher Weekly Best Book
A Booklist Editor’s choice
Winner of the National Book Award (UK)
An ALA Notable Book
A New York Public Library Best Book of the Year
Parenting Book of the Year Award
Nestlé Smarties Book Prize 1997 Gold Medal 9-11 years
FCBG Children’s Book Award 1997 Overall winner and Longer Novel Category Birmingham
Cable Children’s Book Award 1997
Young Telegraph Paperback of the Year 1998 Carnegie Medal 1998 (Shortlist)
British Book Awards 1997 Children’s Book of the Year
Sheffield Children’s Book Award 1998
Whitaker's Platinum Book Award 2001



Also made into a major motion picture


Amazon.con Bestseller rank: #38

I believe that no less than 90% of reader population has, at least, heard of the young wizard and his magical adventure. However, many simply just watch the movies. I recommend everyone to read this series, as it contains so many details and accuracies that the director had changed or left out. These details are very interesting and actually explain why things happened the way they did. Yes, watching a movie of two hours is much more time efficient than reading 600 pages novel, but as a reader, the second option is much more enjoyable.
Also by same author:



                    
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***Amacon.com Bestseller rank is updated hourly***